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About the UNECE Water Convention

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) was adopted in Helsinki in 1992 and entered into force in 1996. Almost all countries sharing transboundary waters in the region of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) are Parties to the Convention.

The Water Convention strengthens transboundary water cooperation and measures for the ecologically-sound management and protection of transboundary surface waters and groundwaters. The Convention fosters the implementation of integrated water resources management, in particular the basin approach. The Convention’s implementation contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other international commitments on water, environment and sustainable development.

The Water Convention requires Parties to prevent, control and reduce transboundary impact, use transboundary waters in a reasonable and equitable way and ensure their sustainable management. Parties bordering the same transboundary waters have to cooperate by entering into specific agreements and establishing joint bodies. As a framework agreement, the Convention does not replace bilateral and multilateral agreements for specific basins or aquifers; instead, it fosters their establishment and implementation, as well as further development. In 2003, the Water Convention was amended to allow accession by countries outside the UNECE region. The amendment entered into force on 6 February 2013, turning the Water Convention into a legal framework for transboundary water cooperation worldwide. As of 1st March 2016, all United Nations Member States can accede to the Convention.

Text of the Convention:
Authentic texts: Convention as amended, along with decision VI/3 clarifying the accession procedureEnglishFrenchRussian
Authentic texts (as adopted in 1992)EnglishFrenchRussian
Text of the amendment (adopted in 2003)EnglishFrenchRussian
United Nations official translationsArabicSpanish
Unofficial translationsPortuguese
Read more about the ConventionConvention brochures